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Full text of "Controversy between New-York tribune and Gerrit Smith"

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CONTROVERS Y 



NEW-YORK TRIBUNE 



GERRIT SMITH 



N E W - Y O R K : 

PRINTED BY JOHN A. GRAY, 95 & 97 CLIFF ST., COR. FRANKFORT. 

1855. 



'^ 



CONTROVERSY 



NEW-YORK TRIBUNE 



GERRIT SMITH. 



N E W - Y O R K : 

PRINTED BY JOHN A. GRAY, 95 & 9t CLIFF ST., COR. FRANKFORT- 

1855. 



3 4 ^o<] 






CONTEOYERSY 



ME. SMITH'S FIEST LETTER. 

Peteeboro, Jidy 1*7, 1855. 
To the Neio-YorJc Tribune: 

I have just read what you say of me in your yesterday's number. 

The press constantly takes great liberties with Tiiy name : — but, I 
believe, the public will bear ine witness, that I am patient with these 
liberties, and do very rarely complain of them. Even with your fre- 
quent and gross and influential misrepresentations of me I have borne 
uncomplainingly : but I can be silent under them no ?onger. 

So you have, at last, been compelled to admit, that I " was present 
in the House of Representatives on the night of the passage of the Ne- 
braska bill, and voted against it." I wish you had made the admission 
a year ago. Had you done so, I should probably have been saved the 
necessity of making a thousand oral and wx'itten answers to those, who 
have questioned me in respect to my vote on that bill. As it was 
you, who, more than all others, created the well-nigh universal belief 
that I was not in the House that night, your early correction of your 
misrepresentations would, pretty certainly, have done more to dispel 
such belief than could have been done to that end by all others. 

Late, however, as your admission has come, I am nevertheless 
thankful for it. Over-burdened as I am with labors, I rejoice in the 
prospect that no more of my time will be consumed in giving such 
answers, as I have referred to. My more joyful prospect doubtless, in 
the esteem of some, is, that I shall now be restored to good standing, 
as an anti-slavery man. But let me here say, once for all, that I care 
not a farthing for their opinion of my anti-slavery character, who judge 
of it by my vote against the Nebraska bill. That was the most popu- 
lar vote I ever gave ; and all the Northern members, who voted against 
it, afforded about as much proof, in so voting, of self denial, as they 
would have done, in submitting to the necessity of eating strawberries 
and cream. I add, that the credit which people give them for " back- 
bone," on account of their having voted against the Nebraska bill, 
shows that the people have not yet imbibed the first true idea of the 
brave and stupendous and self-sacrificing work of abolishing Ameri- 
can slavery. The only members of Congress, who, by voting against 



the Nebr.ask.a bill, earned the least part of a title to the reputation of 
having " back-bone," were the few intrepid ones of the South. In- 
deed, I must insist, that the Northern members, who, in voting for the 
bill, voted against the aroused Northern sentiment, might far rather 
be credited with " back-bone" than we, who voted with that sentiment. 

But no more in regard to my vote on the Nebraska bill. What, 
it seems, the records of Congress could not establish, the Tribune will, 
I trust, be found to have established. I trust, that, henceforward, all, 
who have refused to believe it on the authority of the records of Con- 
gress, will, on the authority of the Tribune, believe that I did, indeed, 
vote against the Nebraska bill. I wish the Tribune would, also, 
authorize the belief that I made a speech, as well as cast a vote, against 
that bill. And I wish this so strongly, that I now tell it to draw on 
me for three hundred dollars (i|300,) in case it shall consent to put 
that speech into the hands of its one hundred and fifty or two hundred 
thousand subscribers. Possibly in this speech — the only one ever 
made in Congress to prove, that slavery is both a piracy and an out- 
law — an abomination, which never has been law, and which never can 
be law — there may be found some little evidence of that " back-bone," 
which your column's have repeatedly charged me with lacking. 

And, now, that you -have ceased to misrepresent me on one point, 
and have confessed that I really did vote against the Nebraska bill, I 
hope you will travel on a little further in the way of justice, and not 
let your relentii%s cease, until you have confessed your deep wrong 
against me on another point also. 

All others put together have not done so much, as you have done, to 
give currency to the report, that whilst in Congress, I was guilty not 
only of deserting the cause of freedom, but of deserting it for the sake 
of the petty self-indulgence of saving a few hours of sleep. To the 
facts in the case. 

When the time had arrived for taking the vote on the Nebraska bill, 
its opponents proposed to combine for the purpose of preventing the 
taking of it. In other words, they believed, that there was now an oc- 
casion which would justify them in blocking the wheels of government, 
and in unfurling the flag of revolution, even on the floor of Congress. 1 
dissented from them. Yes, I had even " back-bone" enough to stand 
alone in my dissent. The argument, which I employed with my excellent 
friends Chase and Sumner and with other members of Congress to 
justify this dissent, contained not one word on the subject of my sleep. 
The substance of it I shortly after gave to my constituents, in a print- 
ed letter ; and you commented on it. That argument you were bound 
to receive, as my own justification of my course ; and you had no 
right, for the purpose of making me ridiculous, or for any other pur- 
pose, to substitute for it the coinage either of your own, or of any 
other body's, fancy. Here follows a copy of tlie argument : 

" I refused to become a party to the plan for preventing the taking 
of the vote on the Nebraska bill. This refusal was a great grief to the 
abolitionists in both Houses of Congress : and I scarcely need say, that 
I love them too well not to grieve in their grief. Nevertheless, I had 



to persist in the refusal, and in standing alone. The wisest of men 
and the best of men, entreated me, over and over again, by my re- 
gard for my reputation, and by all that is precious in the cause of free- 
dom, not to persevere in this singularity. Nevertheless — and, that, 
too, notwithstanding obstinacy had never been imputed to me — I was 
immovable. How could I be moved when it was my convictions, that 
fastened me to my position 1 Years before, in the calm studies of my 
secluded home, I had adopted the democratic theory — not nominally 
and coldly and partially — but really and earnestly and fully ; and the 
conclusions, wdiieh I had arrived at, in circumstances so favorable for 
arriving at just conclusions, I was entirely unwilling to rejieal, in a 
season of excitement and temptation. I spoke of the democratic theo- 
ry. But the soul of that theory is the majority principle. Hence, to 
violate this principle is to abandon that theory. I was fi-equently 
told, that those rules of the House, in the expert use of which the tak- 
ing of the vote on the Nebraska bill could be staved off indefinitely, 
were made for the very purpose of enabling the minority to hold the 
majority at bay, whenever it might please to do so. But this did not 
influence me. For, in the first j)lace, I could not believe that they 
were made for so wrongful — for so anti-democratic a purpose : and, 
in the second place, even had I thus believed, I, nevertheless, could not 
have consented to use them for that purpose. There is no rule — 
nay, there is no enactmejit, however solemn or commanding, that I 
can consent to wield against the all-vital and sacred majority prin- 
ciple ; or, in other words, against democracy itself. 

" When I complained, that the plan in question was revolution, I was 
charged with inconsistency — inconsistency with my well-known rea- 
diness to rescue a fugitive slave. It was true, that I would rescue a fu- 
gitive slave. Nevertheless, I felt not the pertinence of the charge of 
inconsistency. In rescuing him, I take my stand outside of the Gov- 
ernment, and am a confessed revolutionist. Let it be remembered, 
that it is only, whilst and where, I am inside of the Government, that 
I acknowledge myself bound to bow to the will of the majority. I 
bow to it in the legislative hall and in the court-room ; and every 
where and always do I bow to it ; until the purposed execution of the 
decree that is intolerable. Then I rebel. They are guilty of antici- 
pating the only proper time for rebellion, who resort to it daring the 
process of legislation. I sit in the House of Representatives, and hear 
my fellow-members discuss, and see them vote upon, a bill, which 
wrongs me greatly. Argument and persuasion and my vote are all, 
that I can, legitimately, oppose to its passage. If it pass, and its en- 
forcement be contemplated, it will be, then, for me to decide whetlier 
to rebel against the Government, and to resist the enforcement. 

" I need say no more, in explanation or defence of my grounds for re- 
fusing to go into the scheme to prevent the majority from bringing the 
House to a vote on the Nebraska bill. I will, however, before leaving 
the subject, advert to the tact, that for refusing to go into this scheme 
— into this physical struggle, which continued through thirty-five succes- 
sive hours — into this strife, to see which party could go the longer with- 
out sleeping, and eating, and, I would that I could add, without drinking 



6 

also — my reputation for fidelity to the anti-slavery cause has suffered 
not a little in some quarters. Moreover, it is not only in this wise, 
that I suffered loss by refusing to follow the multitude on that occa- 
sion. My reputation for a sound understanding, poor as it was be- 
fore — and poor as that of every radical and earnest abolitionist must 
continue to be, until abolition shall be in the ascendant — is far poorer 
now. It is, I suppose, for my singularity on that memorable occasion, 
that a very distinguished and much esteemed editor tells the world 
that I am ' deficient in common sense.' I am happj'' to believe, how- 
ever, that this editor will readily admit, that it is far better to bo 'de- 
ficient in common sense' than in common honesty : and that, when he 
shall have read this letter, he will clearly see, that, with my views of 
the comprehensive and sacred claims of the majority principle, I could 
not have gone into the combination in question, and yet have retained 
common honesty, I was a Tool in this editor's esteem not to go into 
it. But he will, now, perceive, that I would have been a rogue, had I 
gone into it. He will, now, be glad that I did not go into it. For 
much as he values knowledge, he values integrity more. And were 
he, now, to meet me, he would press my hand, and thank me, that I 
played the fool in preference to playing the rogue. 

" By the way, will not this editor allow me to remind him, that when 
little more than three short years ago, I went into different parts of 
our State to speak against certain Senators for their daring to prevent 
the necessary majority of the Senate from passing the Canal bill, he 
had no censures, but rather praises, to bestow on me "? It is true, that 
he and I both desired the success of the Canal bill ; and that we both 
desired the defeat of the Nebraska bill. And it is true, therefore; that, 
whilst my principles worked for his and my interests and wishes in 
the former case, they worked, (at least as some thought,) against them 
in the latter. Was this, however, a good reason why I should not al- 
low them to work in the latter, as well as in the former case ? I ask 
this editor — I ask the w^orld — how it was possible for me to fall in 
with this j)olicy of preventing the vote on the Nebraska bill, unless I 
was also prepared to revoke my condemnation of the like policy on 
the part of the Senators to whom I have I'eferred," 

Now, / do not say, that this argument, which I have here copied, 
was sound, I leave it for you to say it : and you will say it, on the 
very first occasion you shall have for saying it. It is not improbable, 
that, within a few years, the opponents of slavery will be in the ma- 
jority in both Houses of Congress, Then they will undertake to re- 
peal so much of the Nebraska bill, as repeals the compromise line ; 
and they will, also, imdertake to abolish slavery in the District of Co- 
lumbia, But the advocates of slavery, pleading for their precedent the 
revolutionary movement for preventing the vote on the Nebraska bill, 
will resort to a similar movement. The Trihinie will, of course, de- 
nounce the fiictious, rebellious, anarchical conduct — and, in denouncing 
it, will fulfill my prediction, and virtually endorse my argument. In 
vain, however, will it be for the Tribune to denounce that in its foes, 
which it justified in its friends. Then, too, many a one who was in Con- 



gress with me and who, in his zeal against the Nebraska bill, forgot what 
was due to the great democratic majority principle and to the dignity 
of a legislature, will clamor against others for doing the vei-y thing 
which they had themselves done — for playing a game which one has as 
good right as another to play. These gentlemen will, however, avail 
nothingby their clamor but to be laughed at for their impudent incon- 
sistency. In that day, mine will be the only rebuking and healthful ex- 
ample — unless, indeed, as I, this moment, think was the fact, there were 
two or three democratic members, who, though voting against the bill, 
did not go into the combination to prevent the taking of the vote 
upon it. 

But what as to the foundation for all the fun — and some of it very 
ill-natured, not to say malignant fun — which you and others have made 
of my going to bed at nine o'clock 1 It is true that it is my habit to go 
to bed "at that early hour, and it is also true, that I do not admit, that . 
I am at all the worse for the habit, physically, intellectually, or moral- 
ly. But when or where have I plead this habit, as an excuse for any 
part of my conduct on the Nebraska bill 1 Never — no where. It is 
true, that I have occasionally said, that the physical struggle, which the 
members went into, could, no more than does a duel, decide which 
party is with the right. It is true, that I have occasionally said, that 
if questions in Congress are to be decided by such a struggle, men of 
the physical qualities and habits for such a struggle, however weak 
or wicked they may be, are the proper men to send to Congress. 
It is true, that I have occasionally said, that such being the mode for 
disposing of questions in Congress, I, who get sleepy at nine o'clock, and 
who have conscience against keeping myself awake by drinking a glass 
of rum every hour, am the last man to send to Congress. It is true, 
too, that I said much against night-sessions of Congress ; and that 
I sat very uneasy in the midst of the gross drunkenness, which abounded 
in the Hall, the night of the voting on the Nebraska bill. But I put 
it to your discrimination and conscience, whether, in saying all this, I 
said, that I valued my sleep more than I did the cause of freedom, and, 
that, sooner than not be in bed at nine o'clock, I would fail to record 
my vote against the Nebraska bill. Is it not a very glaring perversion 
of my words, of which you have been guilty ? 

I am amazed, that you can find it in your heart to persevere in these 
utterly groundless and wicked misrepresentations of me. You are 
not a stranger to my services for the slave ; and you know how base 
and absurd is the charge, that I, who, for his sake, have, in every hour 
of the night, ficed the howling tempest, and have, also, for his sake, 
repeatedly faced the howling mob, should, at last, be found making 
more account of a few hours sleep than of my solemn duties to the 
cause of liberty. And yet, you continue to tell the world not only 
that I am guilty of this entirely incomprehensible and exceedingly 
criminal inconsistency, but that I confess, that I am. Whatever may 
be your opinion of my argument for declining to be a party to the de- 
vice for staving oil' the vote on the Nebraska bill, I am sure that you 
believe in your heart, that there was no man, either in or out of Con- 
gress, who would have made greater sacrifices than I to defeat the bill. 



8 

Since I see you are determined to keep afloat the slander that I was 
not willing, ay, that I did myself declare that I was not willing, to sit up' 
after nine o'clock, even for the high duty of standing sentinel for free- 
dom, I do not a little wonder, that you should admit that I voted on 
the passage of the Nebraska bill. For, in order to vote on it, I had to 
be in the CajDitol, until between eleven and twelve o'clock at night — 
perhaj)s quite twelve. Yes, to be certain of not failing to vote on it, I 
had to be in my seat not only all day, but until about the hour of mid- 
night. 

I said, that I was amazed at your continuing to wrong me. I admit, 
that you are tempted to it : and I am willing, in making up my esti- 
mate of your guilt, to make all just allowance for the force of the tempta- 
tion. I know, that you are tempted to hope, that, by showing my 
type of anti-slavery to be unreliable and worthless, you will succeed 
in destroying public confidence in the whole class of technical and 
radical abolitionists, and in winning favor for your own sort of anti- 
slavery — that halfand-half, now here and now there sort, which will, 
one month, study its interests by swelling out into big words against 
slaveholders, and which will study them, the next month, in being as 
busy as a bee to seduce the dupes of those big words to vote for 
Henry Clay, or some other slaveholder. In the light of what I have 
here said, your abuse of me, whilst I was in Congress, and your abuse 
of me ever since, is no mystery. And yet, after mitigating your of- 
fence by every proper allowance for your temptation to the offence, I 
am constrained to say, that, had there been magnanimity, though ever 
so little, among the elements of your character, it would have sufficed 
to overcome the temptation to fall upon a man like myself — yes, even 
a much stronger temptation than that to which you have yielded. For 
I am a man, who has no hold on the public favor ; and who is, always 
and every where, spoken against, ridiculed, reviled. I have no party, 
no press, no means for defending myself. The meanest Whig, or 
Democrat, or Sectarian, from the fact, that he has a party and a 
press to help him, can succeed in starting any, even the most extrava- 
gant, lie respecting me. Ay, the very abolitionists will believe it : — 
for the poor credulous, simjile souls have not yet faith enough in each 
other to shut their ears to lies about each other. The Neio-York 
Tribune, with its imposing pretensions to candor, can gull them to any 
extent it pleases. To gain an unjust victory over an isolated, helpless 
man like myself is indeed very easy, very temptingly easy : — but is it 
not as ungenerous and mean, as it is easy ? 

I notice with what contemj^t you speak in your yesterday's editorial 
of my brief Congressional life. All I have to vQ])\j is, that I did 
what I could, whilst in Congress, by my lips and my life, to serve the 
interests of freedom, and temperance, and peace, and humanity, and 
religion ; and that for having done so, I should, however small my in- 
tellect or influence, have been respected, and not despised, by you — 
commended, and not calumniated. 

I would send this manuscript to you, were it not, that you have, 
within the last week, refused to print some twenty or thirty lines, 
which I sent you, in reply to an attack upon me in your columns. 



Since you refused to print those few lines, you would, of course, refuse 
to print these many lines. Should you, however, consent to re-print 
this letter, I will cheerfully pay your charge for doing so : — and none 
the less cheerfully, because of any ill-natured comments, with which 
you may see fit to accompany it. No comments in the case can change 
the facts in the case. The facts, unchanged and unchangeable, will 
live, to break through and scatter all the clouds, which you have suc- 
ceeded in collecting upon my reputation, and to work out, in the end, 
my perfect and triumphant vindication. They will live too, to stamp 
broader and broader, deeper and deeper, disgrace upon you, until you 
shall have completed the retractions, which you have, at last, found 
yourself compelled to begin, and until you shall have confessed your 
sorrow and shame for having yielded to the temptation to slander one, 
who, not only has no advantages for defending himself, but who has 
shown himself to be both patient under wrongs, and unwilling to inflict 
them. 

Gerrit Smith. 



THE TRIBUNE'S EEPLY, July 28. 

We have no delight in controversy with a gentleman like Mr. Ger- 
rit Smith, whom, in spite of his eccentricities, it is impossible not to 
respect, and whose fiercest blows one can only desire to parry with 
tenderness, and to pay back with mercy. A generous, independent man, 
whose impulses are mainly on the right side, though his action may 
sometimes be on the wrong, it is much more to our taste to do justice 
to his often admirable and humane public conduct than to perform the 
part of censor upon his occasional public errors and weaknesses. In- 
deed our readers will bear us witness that we have never commented 
upon the latter except in a most forbearing manner ; and if we are 
now forced to do otherwise, it is the fault of nobody but Mr. Smith 
himself 

Not very long ago, a correspondent of the Tribune^ at Syracuse, 
spoke of Mr. Smith as having failed to vote against the Nebraska 
Bill because it was his rule to go to bed at nine o'clock. This state- 
ment having been brought to our notice by a friend of Mr. Smith, we 
at once corrected it, and again repeated the notorious fact — often before 
prominently published in these columns, and never contradicted there 
until this Syracuse letter — that Mr. Smith was present at the final 
division on the Nebraska Bill, and voted against it. But at the same 
time we added that when the prolonged struggle of the Northern 
members was going forward to prevent the bill from being brought 
to a vote, Mr. Smith was absent, on the ground of unwillingness to 
sit up after nine at night ; and it is this statement which now provokes 
his anger and creates the extraordinary display which elsewhere 
adorns our page. We trust the reader will peruse his letter ; and in- 
dulge us, before we proceed to notice it, in the declaration that we are 



10 

not in the slightest degree influenced to give it place by the delicate 
proffer to pay for its insertion, with which Mr. Smith favors us in his 
peroration. Any advertisenaents that he may desire to publish will 
be very willingly received at the usual rates in the j)roper part of 
the paper ; but admission to these columns is not to be commanded on 
such terms, either for letters, speeches, or any other description of 
puff! 

By way of justifying himself, and disproving that his hour of going 
to bed had any thing to do with his absence from the Nebraska strug- 
gle, Mr. Smith quotes a long passage from an address to his constitu- 
ents, published on his return from Washington, and duly copied in 
the Tribune at the time. In this extract his absence is put exclu- 
sively on the ground of principle. The course of the minority in 
resisting the bill seemed to him wrong, and he refused to join in 
it. This was all right ; had he urged no other ground we might 
have thought him mistaken, but must have respected his fidelity to 
his conviction. But this M'as not all. In a part of the very same 
address, which, in the present objurgatory letter, he takes care to 
omit, he used the following words in reference to a letter of bis 
whicla had been published : 

'■'■In leaving the Kebrasha Bill, I will briefly refer to the censures which have been 
cast on one of my private letters. The whole or none of that letter should have been 
printed. I was sorry to see disjointed parts of it in print. TJie letter is not before 
me ; but I remember that I spoke in it against night sessions of Congress, and de- 
clared that had the hour of three in the morning been appointed for taking the vote on 
the Nebraska Bill, I should not have been 2>resent." 

The passage of the private letter above referred to was as follows : 

"Suppose our House had appointed three o^ clock in the morning as the hour for 
taking the final vote on the Nebraska Bill. I should not in that case have given my 
vote, for I should have felt it to be my duty to be in bed at that hour. On ivhvm 
would rest the responsibility of my absence and my missing vote ? Some of my 
friends ivould say upon myself; but I would say on the House." 

Now, we submit that, in view of these declarations, it is rather diffi- 
cult to understand the warmth of excitement with which Mr. Smith 
now repels the idea that he was absent from that memorable 
struggle because he wanted to be in bed. He here admits that 
while on principle he was opposed to joining in the battle waged 
in the House, he was also opposed to it because it interfered with 
his bed-time, and not only so, but that he would also have been 
absent even from the final vote on the bill for the same reason. He 
would have done this had the opportunity occurred ; it was in his 
heart, but accidentally not in his act, to fail to vote against the bill. 
And as for his foiling to take part in the great parliamentary contest 
which preceded the passage of the bill, while objections of jDrinciple 
formed one reason, objections of sleepiness formed another ; and be- 
cause we mention one in correcting the mis-statement of a correspond- 
ent, without mentioning the whole, we are assailed by Mr. Smith in a 
.style of rhetoric which we do not care to characterize. 



11 

Mr. Smith will perhaps pardon the suggestion that, when reading 
us so violent a lecture, he would have done well to be careful as to the 
correctness of his own statements, many of which very broadly sm 
against the truth. For instance, he charges that we have till now con- 
cealed the fact that he voted against the Nebraska Bill, when the truth 
is that it was published most prominently at the time, and that, so far 
as we are aware, nothing has ever been said or insinuated to the con- 
trary in our columns until this unlucky letter from Syracuse. And 
of all the explanations on this subject that Mr. Smith has ever 
given to the world, we do not recollect one that we have not freely 
copied. He says, that we have continued to wrong him in this 
matter; indeed, he seems to imagine with an exaggeration which, 
if it did not proceed from excessive passion, would be melancholy 
evidence of monomania, that the Tribune makes it a business to do 
him injury, and that maligning his Congressional career is one of 
our standard employments. The truth is, that we have never spoken 
of him but with a sense of kindness, and a desire to be perfectly 
just. Indeed, we think nothing so unfavorable to his reputation as 
his own letter of this morning, could ever have been admitted to our 
columns, except under peculiar circumstances and with his signature. 
And, finally, we assure him that we forgive both the virulent vitupera- 
tion with which he assails us, and the Pharisaic complacency with 
which he lauds himself, and that we sincerely hope he may live long 
for the world's improvement and his own. 



ME. SMITH'S SECOND LETTER. 

Peterboro, July 31, 1855. 
To the New-Yorh Tribune : 

I HAVE but just retui-ned home, after a week's tour in behalf of our 
Maine Law — that excellent law, which you are defending so ably and 
so influentially. This accounts for a day's delay in thanking you for 
publishing my long letter to you. It was manly in you to publish it, 
and it will be manly in you to publish this also. 

The editorial, with which you have seen fit to accompany my letter, 
does, I confess, both surprise and grieve me. It has made bad worse. 
You have but multiplied your wrongs against me, instead of blotting 
out, by the repentance I had hoped for, both the efiect and the sin of 
those wrongs which you had previously inflicted on me. 

Let us first, however, to your allegation, that I have wronged you. 
You hold, that I " broadly sin against the truth," in charging you with 
being the chief and most responsible propagator of the calumny, 
that I did not vote on the Nebraska Bill. So far are you from 
confessing the truth of this charge, as virtually to claim, that your 
columns have vindicated me from the calumny. This claim can not 



12 

fail to astonish your readers ; for they have all believed — and be- 
lieved it too because they were your, readers — that I did not vote 
on tlie Nebraska Bill. Moreover, they have all believed, that why 
I did not vote on it was because, in my low self-indulgence, I pre- 
ferred sleep to duty. I will not deny, that you "published most 
prominently at the time" my vote on the bill, provided your copying 
the record of the whole affirmative and negative vote deserves to be 
so characterized. But whence comes it, that, in spite of your doing 
so, your readers, including even the abolitionists — the for ever silly, 
because for ever Whig-cheated abolitionists — have all along believed 
that I did not vote on the bill ? Of course, it comes from the fact, 
and most naturally too, that you have spoken, so expressly and 
strongly, against my anti-slavery integrity, and that you have, also, re- 
peatedly spoken in ways which, to say the least, imply that I did not 
vote on it. All this necessarily had the effect, both to prevent and to 
erase, so far as my name was concerned, any impression which your re- 
cord of the vote was calculated to make. For all this, when it did not 
have the effect to lead your readers to assume that my name was not in 
the record, did have the effect to wear out their recollections of having 
seen it there. Doubtless the New-York Herald did, also, publish the 
vote on the Nebraska Bill. But, inasmuch as that paper represented 
me as having gone over to slavery, and as being engaged in purchas- 
ing a Southern plantation and in stocking it with slaves, they, who 
believe what they find in its columns, were not very likely either to 
receive or to retain the impression, that I, a fresh convert to slavery, 
voted against the Nebraska Bill. Now, your readers believe you 
perhaps even more than the readers of the Herald believe it. Hence, 
when they were reading in your columns — aye, in your very edi- 
torials — at the time of the agitation in Congress on the Nebraska 
Bill, that I Avas giving signs of utter apostacy from the cause of 
the slave, and that the slaveholders, having covered me all over 
with the slime of their flattery, were about swallowing me entire, it 
is not at all strange, that the mere fact of my name's being in the 
record of the vote on the bill should have little or no influence upon 
them. 

But I have not done with defending myself against your charge, 
that I have wronged you, in holding you up as my principal ca- 
lumniator in the case in hand. About the first day of the present 
month, the base charge, with unusually base accompaniments, that I 
was not present at the taking of the vote on the Nebraska Bill, 
appeared in your columns. On the 16th instant you retracted the 
charge. But you know that, to this day, you would not have done 
so, had you not been compelled to it by my prompt denial of the 
charge. That denial you refused to publish ; and even the miserable 
thing which you gave to your readers in its stead was not published 
until you had given the slander a full fortnight, in which to send its 
poison through the public veins. 

So mueli for your charge of my having wronged you. I have shown 
how entirely baseless it is. It will never be renewed by you, unless, 



13 

indeed, you shall come to surpass even yourself in draughts upon the 
popular credulity. And now to your fresh wrongs against myself. 

1st. You seek to cover over your gross injustice to me by declara- 
tions of your uniform " kindness" and " tenderness" to my " errors" 
and " weaknesses." That I am an erring and weak man, and 
that, as such, I greatly need " kindness" and " tenderness" at the 
hands of my fellow-men, is cheerfully admitted by me. Neverthe- 
less, there is one thing, which I need even more than " kindness" and 
" tenderness." It is justice. Justice I must have. I can accept no 
substitute for it. If you will give me that, I will be content, even 
though you shall not add the grace of " kindness" and " tenderness." 
But pray what do you mean by your professions of " kindness" and 
" tenderness" toward mel If but irony, or a mere joke, I make no 
complaint. But, if you intended to have them taken literally, and as 
sincere, then they are the most impudently false professions which I 
have ever known. 

2d. You cheapen my letter to you by representing it to be the 
fruit of an uncontrollable temper. I admit, that the words of an 
angry man are entitled to all the less consideration for his being 
an angry man. I think, however, I can safely say, that if I have 
ever disgraced my manhood by exhibitions of anger, not my neigh- 
bors, nor even my family, know it. 

3d. You couple with my name eccentricities and " monomania" ; 
and I confess, that I am sorry you do. Desiring deeply that my 
efforts in aid of the great and good objects which I cherish may tell as 
far as possible, I am always pained when I see them crippled by en- 
countering the public suspicion, that I am an eccentric and insane 
man. I had begun to hope, that, as Temperance and Freedom were 
getting so well advanced among us, I should soon be entirely exempt 
from this suspicion. I speak of Temperance and Freedom — since it 
was not until I became a Temperance man, that any one did so much 
as hint that I am eccentric, and since it was not until I became tui 
abolitionist, that I was ever called a madman. I was well aware, that 
I might have saved my reputation for common sense and sanity, had 
I consented to be a more moderate, or somewhat qualified, Temper- 
ance man and abolitionist. But it still seems to me, (perhaps, how- 
ever, only because I am still eccentric and insane,) that I should, in 
that case, have been a less consistent, and as time would prove, a less 
useful friend of Temperance and Freedom. 

There are many facts in my Temperance and Abolition history, 
that have favored the charge of my being eccentric and mad. The 
fact, that, although it is nearly thirty years since I espoused the cause 
of Temperance, 1 have never, since 1 espoused it, allowed myself to 
vote for any man for the office of Supervisor, or Justice of the Peace, 
until I had first ascertained, that he would refuse to license the sale of 
intoxicating drinks, has favored this charge. The fact too, that, for 
more than twenty years, and even as far back as when my immediate 
emancipation (I was always an immediate emancipationist) was 
clogged by my colonization, I came under the conviction — a conviction 
immediately translated into practice — that, among the supplies of my 



14 

family, there ought to be none — no cloth, no rice, no sugar, no cotton 
— that are wet with the tears and sweat and blood of the poor toiling 
and unpaid slave — that fact, too, gave countenance to the charge of 
my being an eccentric and crazy man. I believe, however, that the 
day will come when such flicts will be regarded as perfectly consistent 
with a rational opposition to drunkenness and slavery. Another fact 
which favored this charge is, that, at a very early day, I became per- 
suaded, that not only no slaveholder, however intellectual or amiable 
he may be, is capable of representing my views of civil government, 
but that no non-slaveholder is, whose views of civil government can be 
represented by a slaveholder. Out of this persuasion grew my 
motto : " Vote for no slaveholder, and for no one who does vote for a 
slaveholder" — a motto, which, as it proscribes all Whigs and Demo- 
crats, brings me under the disfavor of all Whigs and Democrats. 
This motto I have never failed to honor at the ballot-box. Hundreds 
of thousands of voters will, I believe, honor it, ere long. I wish you 
might be among them, instead of neutralizing your testimony against 
slavery by admitting, every now and then, that you would vote for a 
slaveholder. Possibly, the clearer light, which shall reveal to you the 
reasonableness of the motto, will also reveal to you the reasonableness 
of many other things in my life, which have passed with you for 
eccentricity and madness. Pardon me, if these lines shall, like some 
in my former letter, savor, in your esteem, of self laudation. I loathe 
self-laudation ; but my loathing of it shall not deter me from self- 
defence. 

4th. The way is now prepared for me to take up the principal one 
of the fresh wrongs you have done me. I call it the principal one, 
because it is an imputation upon my ingenuousness and veracity. I 
addressed a letter to my constituents. It was both written and pub- 
lished in Washington, and not, as you represent, at my home. In one 
part of the letter I present my reason for refusing to join with the mi- 
nority to prevent the taking of the vote on the Nebraska Bill. This 
reason was, that the minority has no right to baffle and control the 
majority. In my letter to you I set this forth as my only reason. 
You say, that I had another reason also ; and you add, that I avowed it 
in my letter to my constituents. This other reason for not joining the 
majority is, as you declare, that to join it would interfere with my 
bed-time. And now to the trial of this issue. Hear first, my argu- 
ment, that I had but the one reason, which I stated in my letter to you ; 
and then we will hear yours, that, in my letter to my constituents, I 
confessed, that I had one more. 

1st. My antecedents — especially what I spoke and •svTote on the 
subject of our Senators' refusing to vote on the Canal Bill, and on 
their withdrawing from the Senate Chamber — prove, that I had but to 
be consistent with my own theory of civil government, in order to 
refuse to go into the combination for staving off the vote on the 
Nebraska Bill. These antecedents also prove, that my earnestness in 
behalf of this theory at this point, needed no additional considerations 
to induce me to cai-ry it out. 

2d. There are the Members of Congress, who urged me to go into 



15 

the<5ombination. Ask Senators Chase and Sumner, or any other of them 
whether they ever heard me give a reason for not going into the com- 
l)ination other than that which I gave in my letter to you. There too 
are the gentlemen out of Congress, who argued the case with me. Ask 
Preston King, or any of them, whether they heard me give any other 
reason. They will all reply, that I gave no other. 

3d. Look at the recorded proceedings of Congress. They show, 
that I was opposed on principle to the combination in question ; for 
they show, that I voted against the devices to consume time, and pre- 
vent the taking of the vote on the bill. There is the record of my 
votes on the side of the pro-slavery majority. Yes, this record shows 
that I sat and voted with that guilty majority. Publish, if you please, 
in the most strongly condemnatory terms, that I was found, in that 
memorable struggle, in* pro-slavery company — in the company of men 
who were guilty of one of the most stupendous and atrocious swindlings 
ever known. Hold me up, if you please, to everlasting detestation for 
all that ; for all that is true. Only do not persist in telling of me 
what is not true. 

4th. There is my letter to my constituents. It speaks for itself. 
It gives but one reason for my refusing to join the minority in tramp- 
ling on the rights of the majority. In using such language I mean no 
reproach on the minority. They acted out their conscience, and I 
mine. They thought that they were upholding rights, whilst I thought 
that they were trampling on rights. 

We come, now, to your argument for showing that I avowed, in my 
letter to my constituents, two reasons for not combining w-ith the 
minority on the occasion referred to. That I may be certain of doing 
you no injustice, 1 will copy the wdiole of your argument on this 
point. 

" By way of justifying himself and disproving that his hour of 
going to bed had any thing to do with his absence from the Nebraska 
struggle, Mr, Smith quotes a long passage from an address to his con- 
stituents published on his return from Washington, and duly copied 
in the Tribune at the time. In this extract his absence is put exclu- 
sively on the ground of principle. The course of the minority in 
resisting the bill seemed to him wrong, and he refused to join in it. 
This was all right ; had he urged no other ground we might have 
thought him mistaken, but must have respected his fidelity to his con- 
viction. But this w\as not all. In a part of the very same address, 
which in the present objurgatory letter of his he takes care to omit, 
he used the following words in reference to a letter which had been 
published : 

" '//i leaving the Nebraska Bill, I loill hrieflij refer to the censures which 
have been cast on one of my private letters. The tvhole or none of that 
letter should have been printed. I loas sorry to see disjointed pxirts of it 
in print. The letter is not before vie ; but I remember, that I spoke in 
it against night sessions of Congress, and declared that had the hour of 
three in the inorning been appointed for taking the vote on the Nebraska 
Bill, I should not have been present.^ 



9 
16 

" Th e passage of the private letter above referred to was as follows :' 

" ' Su2)2)ose our House had ap2)ointed three o^loch in the morning as 
the hour for taking the final vote on the Nebraska Bill. I should not in 
that case have given my vote; for I should have felt it to he my duty to be 
in bed at that hour. On whom toould rest the responsibility of my absence 
and my onissing vote ? Some of my friends ivould say uj^on myself; but 
Iivould say^ on the House.'' 

" Now, we submit that, in view of these declarations, it is rather dif- 
ticult to miderstand the warmth of excitement with which Mr. Smith 
now repels the idea that he was absent from that memorable struggle 
because he wanted to be in bed. He here admits that while on prin- 
ciple he was opposed to joining in the battle waged in the House, he 
was also opposed to it because it interfered with his bed-time." 

Now, I submit, whether, in your zeal to convict me of insincerity, 
you have not entirely confounded one subject with another. Neither 
the passage you extract from the private letter, nor that you extract 
from the letter to my constituents, says one word about the " memora- 
ble struggle," in which the majority tried to bring the House to a vote 
on the Nebraska Bill, and the minority tried to stave oft' the vote. Both 
of these passages refer to the taking of the vote on the Nebraska Bill. 

You see your blunder. Men, as able and logical as you are. have 
been guilty of blunders. Some of them have been magnanimous 
enough to confess them, and some have not. With which of the two 
classes you shall identify yourself remains to be proved. You ven- 
tured to impeach my veracity. I have triumphantly vindicated it. 
You would perhaps consult your popularity by refusing to publish, or 
to admit the vindication. But I hope, that you will prefer to honor 
yourself and to honor human nature, even though it shall be at the 
expense of your popularity. 

But, akhough the extracts, which you made, 'do entirely foil to con- 
vict me of any degree of insincerity or folsehood, for the reason that 
they do not apply to the subject, which, in your haste, you took it 
for granted, that they did apply to, there is, nevertheless, another di- 
rection also, in which you use the extracts against me. You use them 
to prove, that, in a certain event, I would, by my own admission, have 
failed to vote on the Nebraska bill. I admit, that they prove it. 
What, however, has this to do with your former charges against me ? 
These charges regarded what I actually did in actual circumstances. 
But, now, you arraign me for conjecturing (it could be conjecturing 
only) what I should do in certain supposable circumstances. You are 
ungenerous. Since I did vote in the actual case, you should be ready 
to forgive my after suppositions, however foolish, that, in an imagined 
contingency, well-nigh impossible to occur, I should refuse to vote. I 
do not recollect how 1 came to suppose this three o'clock case. It proba- 
bly was to illustrate the absurdity of entering upon a physical strug- 
gle, which was to keep members of Congress from their tables and 
beds for weeks, ay for months — for, when it was entered upon, it was 
a common boast, that it should be protracted for at least six months, if 
not indeed until the expiration of that Congress in March, 1855. 

It occurs to me from your language, that you would have it under- 



17 

stood, that had the vote on the Nebraska bill not been taken until after 
three o'clock, I would have left the House before the taking of it. My 
letter to my constituents shows, that I meant no such thing. I had in 
my mind the outrage and wickedness of appointing, the day beforehand, 
or days beforehand, a session at an hour so unseasonable, that some 
would be too feeble, and none would be fit, to attend it. You intimate, 
that, with a dishonest intent, I forebore to c^uote from my letter to my 
constituents what it must now be abundantly evident to you there 
was no occasion whatever to quote. I, in my turn, do now charge 
you with omitting to quote from it that, which would have explained 
to my advantage and vindication what I meant in the part, you did 
quote. I will, however, supply your omission, and quote what is ne- 
cessary to serve the cause of truth, at this point. 

" I might dwell on many objections to giving my countenance to this 
three o'clock appointment. I will detain you with only a few of them ; 
and with but a glance at these. 1st. Some members of Congress are, 
either from age or other causes, too feeble to be compelled, unless in 
a case of absolute necessity, to leave their beds, at such an unusual 
hour for leaving them. 2d. At this sleepy hour, few persons are in a 
state for the wise and safe transaction of important business. Sd. As 
the friend of temperance, both my lips and example shall ever testify 
against any night-session of Congress, that is not called for by the clear- 
est necessity. What if the majority had appointed the taking of the vote 
on the Nebraska question, in a dram-shop ? Would you have had me 
present 1 I trust not. 

" But, I shall, perhaps, be told, that were it, once, understood, that 
the friends of temperance, and decency, and good hours, refuse to ap- 
pear in Congress, the latter part of the night ; advantage would be 
taken of the refusal, and that part of the night would be chosen for mis- 
chievous and wicked legislation. This supposes two things, however, 
neither of which, I trust, is supposable. It supposes, 1st, that a ma- 
jority of the members of Congress would be guilty of such an out- 
rage ; and, 2d, that the people would be patient under it. Had the 
Nebraska bill been passed by calling us from our beds at three 
o'clock, the people would have seen, in ihis disgraceful fact, another 
and a strong reason for condemning thi? bill and its supporters." 

I trust, that your readers will not construe my words to mean, that 
I would not have gone into a three-o'clock-in-the-morning session, for 
the sake of defeating the Nebraska Bill. I suppose that, for that pur- 
pose, I would have gone to a session at any hour. I voted on it not 
to defeat it — for it was made manifest some days before that it would 
pass by a decided majority. I voted on it for the purpose of record- 
ing my name against a perfidious and high-handed assault on the cause 
of freedom. The voting on the bill "simply recorded," as you 
rightly say, in your editorial of the 16th instant, "a foregone conclu- 
sion." Let me add in this connection, that no man was more deter- 
mined than myself not to fail to cast his vote on the bill ; and that 
no man was more careful than myself not to miss the opportunity to 
2 



18 

do so. It is true, that, during the memorable struggle, I did not 
remain in the House, as many members did, for the purpose of pre- 
venting the taking of the vote on the Nebraska Bill ; but it is also 
true, that I did remain there, and with as few intermissions as they, 
watching for the time when the bill should be put to vote — a time 
which might come in any hour of the day or night. 

Just here I would say something of this "private letter," from 
which you have quoted. It was fliir in you to quote from it what you 
did ; for I had myself indorsed this much of it in a public letter — in 
my letter to my constituents. But there are newspapers — especially 
those little cur newspapers, so proud in their habit of biting at my 
heels — that quote other parts of it also, for the purpose of damaging 
me. These newspapers quote from it to prove, that my reason for 
refusing to go into the struggle to prevent the taking of the vote on 
the Nebraska Bill was, that I would not consent to change my bed- 
time. Now, in the extracts from it which I have seen, there is but 
one sentence, and that a short one, which speaks of this struggle. 
Moreover, that sentence was followed by * * *. The whole of the 
sentence is : " I declined entering into the physical strife — into the 
question which party could do the longest without eating or drinking." 
But even if there were any thing in these extracts, wluch might seem 
to make against my declaration — that I assigned but the one reason, 
which I declare 1 assigned, for not going into the combination to stave 
off the vote — I should still deny the right to quote the extracts against 
such declaration. 1st. Because, as there are abundant unequivocal 
proofs to show what was my reason for refusing to enter the combina- 
tion, it would be illogical, unphilosophical, absurd to turn away from 
these to such, as are exceedingly scanty and uncertain. I am known 
to hold to the anti-slavery construction of the Federal Constitution. 
How unreasonable it would be to quote, in the face of the decisive 
proofs to this ehd, the few lines in one of my private letters that 
might seem to looV in an opposite direction ! 2d. The extracts 
should not be used ag8.inst me, because they are extracts from a pri- 
vate letter — a private leuer, too, that was evidently written in haste, 
and in a playful spirit. 36 Extracts from a letter do not prove even 
its general, much less its pre<^ise, tenor and drift. How far these dis- 
jointed extracts would be mod"4ied by the unprinted parts of the letter, 
I do not know ; for I took no -^.opy of it. 4th. It is important, in 
order to interpret this letter safelj, to know what were the questions 
put in the letter, to which it was an answer. (I remember them but 
very generally and very uncertainly.) 

But I need say no more of the private letter in question. Indeed, 
so far as our controversy is concerned, I did not need to say any thing 
of it; for you were at full liberty to quote from it what you did : your 
only error, at this point, consisting in your assumption, that the quo- 
tation referred to one subject, when, on the very face of it, it refers en- 
tirely to another. 

My argument is ended. You fmd fault with my rhetoric. I find 
fault with your facts, I am a plain man, and I care and know compa- 
ratively little about rhetoric. But I love honesty ; and, therefore, do 



19 

I make great account of facts. It is, because you wronged me in your 
facts that I had to take up my pen. If it is in my rhetoric only, that 
I have wronged you, then is the balance largely against you. 

I need not tell you, that you are worsted in our controversy. You 
have too much sense not to know it, and too much pride not to feel it. 
But you have no right to complain of the result. Your readers will 
bear me witness that I went into the controversy very reluctantly. 
You had to keep pushing me for nearly a year and a half, before you 
finally succeeded in pushing me into it. 

"Beware 
Of entrance to a quarrel ; but being in 
Bear it, that tlae opposer may beware of thee." 

_ _We both know, equally well, that I obeyed the former of these two 
injunctions of the great poet. Whether I have obeyed the latter also, 
you know better than I. 

The " errors," " weaknesses," " eccentricities," " excessive passions" 
or " monomania," which you attribute to me, have, doubtless, had not a 
little to do in encouraging you to select me as the person, on whom to 
vent your ill-humors, and practice your weapons of ridicule and detrac- 
tion. From the return blows of one so crazy, so foolish, so impotent as 
you had pictured me to be, you, of course, felt that there was nothing to 
fear. Sorry, however, as is the plight, in which this controversy 
leaves you, it, nevertheless, is not without its important instructions 
to you ; and so far, therefore, you may console yourself, that the con- 
troversy is not all loss to you. Ever hereafter, you will know, ay 
keenly feel, how exceedingly unsafe it is to judge, in the light of the 
disparaging and bad names, which you have yourself put upon your 
opponent, of the measure of his ability to defend himself against 
your assaults. Ever hereafter, you will be entirely convinced, that a 
man is not necessarily the poor thing, which it has suited your fancy 
and your interest to represent him to be. Now, such instruction 
would be worth something to any body. It is especially valuable to 
you, who seem to have been so remarkably destitute of it. 

I observe, that you say nothing of my proposition to have you print the 
Speech, which I made in Congress on the Nebraska bill. I am very 
desirous that you should show your readers what words I was drop- 
ping into the ears of slaveholders, at the very time when you were mak- 
ing those readers believe in my suppleness to slaveholders, and in my 
base desertion of the anti-slavery cause. My offer of $300 for your 
compensation was perhaps not enough. Hence, I extend it to S500. 
Your rule to receive pay for advertisements only shall not be in the 
way of your publishing the speech ; — for you may class it with adver- 
tisements, and yet have the $500. Any way you please : only get it 
before the readers of your columns. 

I observe, too, that you make no argument to show, that I am 
wrong in denying to the minority the right to control the majority. I 
add, that you never will, ay never can, make an argument to that end. 
The passion and prejudice of the moment may drive the minority into 
an attitude so unwarranted and false. But as long as democracy itself 



20 



shall remain truth— and that will be ever— so long will the right of the 
majority to vote down the minority remain a truth. 

I close with thanking you for your wish, that I may live long to im- 
prove mvself. Be assured, that I reciprocate the kind and generous 
wish— and that I do so all the more cordially, because you are in such 
especial need of improvement. Gerrit Smith. 



THE TRIBUNE'S REPLY, AUGUST 17. 

Mr. Gerrit Smith has done us the honor to address a second letter 
to the Trihone, to which, notwithstanding its enormous length, we in 
turn do the honor of a place in our columns. We are happy to say 
that it is an improvement on his former eifort. Where that was 
furious, this is Biild; where that distinctly and violently alleged what 
was not the fact, this performs that ungrateful office with striking 
vagueness and moderation. At this rate, if Mr. Smith should have 
occasion to favor us with a third communication, we shall expect it to 
be an exemplar of epistolary suavity, worthy of a first place m any 
new Model Letter Writer, which our enterprising publishers may 
bring out for the use of iuvenile and unsophisticated minds. 

But, while we award such praise to the ameliorated style and 
sweetened tone of our correspondent, we naust be pardoned for saying 
that we would gladly have been spared such an evidence of moral im- 
provement. There are controversies, perhaps, in which we do not 
regret to see our adversary display an eclatant weakness, laying himself 
open to merciless thrusts and cuts in return. But with the present 
champion there is no pleasure in such a triumph. We respect too 
deeply the goodness of his heart to look on without pain when he dem- 
onstrates, with wilful needlessness, the want of brains in his head. 
For this reason, we should greatly prefer to have been spared the pub- 
lication of the feeble and indiscreet lucubration for \yhich we to-day 
make room. Letter- writing is a dangerous practice ; it has killed ofl 
many a public man ; and, while Mr. Smith has better holds on life than 
his political achievements can ofter, and is safe even against the blows 
of his own pen, there are other spheres of labor in which he can at once 
render good service to the public, and do credit to his own reputa- 
tion ; in this, he seems rather to waste his time and talents to no pur- 
pose whatever. i i i 
Mr. Smith, with a reckless and passionate haste which we rebuked 
but too mildly, charged us in his former letter with being " the chief 
and most responsible propagator of the calumny that he did not vote 
on the Nebraska bill." We denied that this charge possessed any foun- 
dation whatever ; and in turn declared that Mr. Smith had broadly 
sinned against the truth in making it. Such was the issue between us ; 
and in meeting it, a man of common sense, as well as of a desire to be 



21 

fair and honest (nobody disputes that Mr. Smith means to be the latter), 
would have resorted to a file of the Tribune, and would have either 
quoted from it the proof that we had propagated the calumny in ques- 
tion, or he would have owned, like a man, that he was wrong in thus ac- 
cusing us. But Mr. Smith does neither. He neither establishes his own 
case nor confesses ours ; but, without a particle of evidence, repeats his 
allegation, putting it on the imaginary ground thatour readers have all 
believed him guilty of shirking the vote on the Nebraska bill, because 
he wanted to go to bed. Now, how does Mr. Smith know what is 
believed by all the million of people who read the Tribune ? Or, if 
he has some supernatural means of knowing that they entertain such an 
opinion about him, what right has he to hold us responsible for it 1 
What we have said or implied of him is not hidden or doubtful ; there 
is no occasion for guesses or insinuations about it ; and Mr. Smith 
ought to be ashamed of himself for repeating, on such silly grounds, 
accusations which we positively deny, and for the truth of which no 
proof can be brought. Nay, more : he goes further, and charges us 
with having " spoken expressly and strongly against his anti-slavery 
integrity." False, Mr. Smith, every word of it! We never uttered 
or implied a doubt of your integrity, unless you regard the statement, 
forced from us most unwillingly, that you are deficient in common 
sense, and too abundant in vanity and self esteem, as expressing such 
a doubt. And as for the constant ill-humor, ridicule and detraction 
you gratuitously attribute to us, we beg to say that it is no such thing. 
You labor under a curious delusion on this point. We have no desire 
to injure you, and never had, but the contrary ; indeed, we have never 
lost an occasion of doing justice to your many good qualities and laud- 
able public acts ; and if we have sometimes — at very rare intervals — 
been constrained to speak of you in other terms than those of praise, 
it has always been with regret. Does Mr. Smith suppose all the 
world is bound to glorify him at every turn *? For our part we answer 
that for most of the time we have better business on hand ; indeed, he 
mightily exaggerates his importance when he supposes that the Tri- 
bune bears him constantly in mind, whether for admiration or con- 
tempt. He is a well meaning man, accidentally very rich, and able 
to do good with his money ; but we must confess that, for at least as 
much as eleven months out of every year, we are so absorbed by other 
matters of interest in the world, as totally to forget his existence. 

But though Mr. Smith has not referred to a file of the Tribune to 
prove that we have steadily calumniated and injured him, we have had 
the curiosity to make such an examination, for the purpose of discover- 
ing if by chance any expression of the nature complained of had inad- 
vertently made its way into oiu' leading columns. We find that since 
the first of April, 1854, Mr. Smith has been four times spoken of in 
these columns. The first occasion was on April 7 of that year, when, 
in speaking of the previous day's debate on the Nebraska bill, in the 
House of Representatives, we stated that " Mr. Gerrit Smith of New 
York made a powerful speech against the bill." Next, on June 29, 
1854, we announced his resignation of his seat in Congress in the fol- 
lowing terms : — 



22 

" Gerrit Smith has resigned his seat in Congress, to take effect at 
the close of the present session. We regret this withdrawal. Mr. 
Smith is preeminently a patriot, a Christian, and a philanthropist ; and 
men of that stamp are scarce in either House." 

Again, on July 15, 1854, in publishing from the Utica Morning 
Herald the extract from Mr. Smith's private letter about going to bed 
at nine o'clock, we made some remarks, of M'hich the following is a 
specimen : — 

" Mr. Smith now sees what it is to be misjudged by over-zealous 
compatriots, because he does not see the wisdom or good policy of 
doing just as they think best. Perhaps he may have declared or re- 
solved other men ' traitors to liberty' ere now because they did not 
see fit to train in his troop. Now we are very sure Gerrit Smith is 
not and never can be at heart a ' traitor to liberty,' though he may err 
sadly in judgment, as we think he did at the time the Nebraska bill 
passed. His intentions were excellent, but he mistook his course." 

Again, on August 11, 1854, in publishing Mr. Smith's address to 
iiis constituents we accompanied it with some perfectly kind and re- 
spectful comments, concluding in these words : — 

" We publish Mr. Smith's Address, regretting that we cannot agree 
with the points of explanation or defence therein set forth by one who 
aims to be nothing but a defender of the universal rights of man." 

Aside from these occasions, we do not find that either tht Tribune 
or any of its correspondents, has spoken of Mr. Smith at all for the 
last year and upward, until a letter from Syracuse was admitted with- 
out complete scrutiny, a month or more ago, stating that he did not 
vote on the Nebraska bill ; that statement we promptly corrected 
when brought to our attention by a friend of Mr. Smith, who had 
written to him on the subject ; and if there are other articles respecting 
him Mdiich have escaped our notice, we are confident that there is 
nothing in them out of keeping with the friendly spirit exhibited in the 
extracts we have quoted. What folly is it, then, which urges him to 
assail and misrepresent us in such a gratuitous and groundless manner. 

Mr. Smith goes into some new explanations on the question of his 
being absent from the attempt to stave off the Nebraska bill on the 
ground of its interfering with his bed-time. He contends with pom- 
pous complacency that we have failed to show that his desire to go to 
bed at nine o'clock had anything to do with his absence on that occa- 
sion, and maintains, with curious oblivion of his own former state- 
naents, that his only motive for refusing to engage in that contest was 
fidelity to the democratic principle. We accordingly waste no time 
on his puerile argument, but proceed directly to settle the question by 
his own evidence. The extract from a private letter of Mr. Sjnith, 
referred to above, reads as follows : — 

" My friends and constituents need not be troubled by these things. 



23 

Should they not rejoice in them 1 Only a few months ago I was re- 
garded on all hands as a too zealous Abolitionist. But now the Whigs 
and Democrats are driven so fiir ahead of me by this Nebraska im- 
pulse that they look back upon me and call me a ' traitor to liberty.' 
Other gentlemen of your County, to whom I referred, suggest that I 
can defend myself in the newspapers. But there are two things I have 
not time to do : one of these is to prove that I am ureal Abolitionist; 
and the other that I am a real Temperance man. * * * * I 
declined entering into the physical strife — into the question which party 
could do the longest without eating and sleeping. Mr. Matteson 
thought I did wrong in not going with him into the contest of physical 
endurance. But so did most of the opponents of the Nebraska bill 
think me wrong in this respect. All of the technical Abolitionists 
thought that I did wrong ; my excellent and beloved friends Chase and 
Sumner were deeply grieved that I stood aloof from that physical 
struggle. I am sure, however, that they would have been more deeply 
grieved had they seen me debase myself so far as to substitute their 
consciences for my own. 

" It is not strange that, keeping up my country habits, going to bed 
at nine and rising at five, I should deny the right of Congress to have 
night sessions. Suppose our House had appointed three o'clock in the 
morning as the hour for taking the final vote on the Nebraska bill, 
I should not in that case have given my vote, for I should have felt it 
to be my duty to be in my bed at that hour. On wliom would rest 
the responsibility of my absence and my missing vote 1 Some of my 
friends would say on myself, but I would say on the House. 

" If my constituents wish for their Member of Congress one who can 
sit up all night, they should have elected a person of very different 
habits from my own ; but if they wish for their Member of Congress 
one who can go longest without eating, they would have done better 
to have chosen an Indian, who is accustomed to go two or three days 
without eating, than a white man who is accustomed to eat his meals 
regularly every day." 

Now, if this does not prove that at least one of the reasons why Mr. 
Smith was unwilling to join in the attempt to prevent the Nebraska 
bill from coming to a vote, was that he would not sit up for it, it does 
not prove anything. He may add to this as many other reasons as he 
pleases, and as many explanations as he can put together ; but here we 
have this point clearly established. He would not sit up out of his 
regular hours, or go without his usual meals, to prevent the Nebraska 
bill from coming to a vote, or even to vote on it at the final division ; 
and, if his constituents desired a representative to perform such feats , 
they should have chosen a man of corresponding habits. Such is the 
plain and undeniable tenor of Mr. Smith's own declarations. He rnay 
regret them ; he certainly did sit up two hours after his usual bed-time 
to vote against the bill ; but still these declarations are on record as 
containing at least one reason why he was unwilling to join with the 
other Anti-Nebraska men in the House during the decisive struggle ; 



24 

and they cover with shame the foolish blather with which he occupies 
the latter part of his present letter to the Tribune. 

We long ago expressed our opinion upon that very sensitive demo- 
cratic conscience which would not allow Mr. Smith to join in resisting 
the will of the majority in the House, but he invites a repetition of it. 
We hold that his reason is the veriest fudge in the world. That was 
notoriously a corrupt majority, procured by the grossest bribery on 
the part of the Executive, and it was as much a duty to resist it by 
every practicable means as if it had been engaged in a violent attempt 
to overthrow the Constitution and establish a monarchy. The Pierce 
party had sprung the question upon the country, and in defiance of 
democratic principles were hurrying through their scheme before the 
people could have an opportunity to pronounce upon it. What the 
opposition contended for was that the people should be allowed to 
decide ; and that a purchased Congress should not be suffered to take 
advantage of power confided to its members for very different pur- 
poses, to pervert and transform the Government. We think that if 
Mr. Smith's views of democracy had been a little more intelligent, he 
would have joined in the effort to prevent that outrage upon the rights 
of the majority of the people ; but, unfortunately, sincerity is not 
always a sure defence against sophistry, and we all know in what 
quarter good intentions are employed as a pavement. 

Mr. Smith desires us to publish his speech of April 6, in our adver- 
tising columns, and proffers the sum of $500 as a compensation for 
that service. It is an old speech, and for that reason not particularly 
interesting ; besides, its length is such that, at our usual rates for ad- 
vertising, its insertion in all our editions would be worth no less than 
$2,000 ; indeed, the mere white paper required to print it in the Tri- 
bune will cost us all that he proposes to pay ; but such is our willingness 
to oblige him that we shall make the very considerable discount which 
his proposal will require ; the speech will appear at as early a day as 
possible. 



ME. SMITH'S THIED LETTEK. 

Peterboro, Aug. 18, 1855. 
To the New-York Tribune : 

I this evening receive your yesterday's sheet. But for one thing 
in it I should not feel at liberty to ask you to print another letter for 
me — not even this, which shall be little more than a handbreadth. 
You have dealt so justly with me in printing my two long letters ; and 
your willingness to publish in all your editions, and for so insufficient 
a compensation, my speech on the Nebraska bill, is so liberal, that I 
am half ashamed to ask for any more space, however little, in your 
columns. 

This one thing to which I have referred is your leaving your readers 
to believe that I departed from the truth in accusing you of assailing 



26 

my anti-slavery integrity whilst I was in Congress. Now, will you 
not be so good as to reprint a few of the lines in which you did assail 
it ? A few lines will suffice. You can take them, if you please, from 
that editorial in which you speak of me as being the most radical Abo 
litionist ever sent to Congress, and nevertheless as giving signs of my 
betrayal of the anti-slavery cause. If you will comply with this re- 
quest you will vindicate my veracity, and will save me from the ne- 
cessity of vindicating it by the like means. I would give you the date 
of the editorials in question but that I keep no files of newspapers, and 
have to rely solely on my recollections to know what they have said 
of me. 

Do this for me which I have now requested, and I will be content 
that you have had the last word in our controversy. Indeed, since 
you have admitted that I really did vote on the Nebraska bill, al- 
though I had to sit up until midnight in order to do so, and since, too, 
you are about to publish my speech on the bill. I think I can very well 
afford to leave unanswered all you say of my " vanity," and " want of 
brains," and " foolish blather." So, too, I can very well afford to leave 
unanswered your conclusion that my argument in favor of the rights 
of the majority is the " veriest fudge ;" and so, too, I can very well af- 
ford to leave unanswered all you have made out, or can possibly 
make out of extracts from one of my private letters. 

Gerrit Smith. 



THE TEIBUNE'S KEPLT.— September 6tli. 

We certainly have every disposition to oblige Mr. Smith, but we 
really can not quote as he desires fz'omany former articles of ours assail- 
ing his anti-slavery integrity, for the reason that, so far as we are aware, 
we never published any such articles. We have already assured Mr. 
Smith of this fact, and yet here he comes again to the charge just as 
fresh as ever. Once more we repeat it : of Mr. Gerrit Smith's moral 
integrity, as an anti-slavery-man or otherwise, we never entertained 
nor expressed a doubt. We have also carefully examined a file of the 
Tribune for the past two years to see if any such expressions had, by 
any accident of which we were unconscious, made their way into our 
leading columns, but we could discover nothing of the sort ; and we 
again assure Mr. Smith that, if there are any such, which wc did not 
know at the time and can not find now, they do as much injustice to 
our opinion as to his character. That Mr. Smith is a knave, or any 
thing approaching a knave, is what we never thought ; and if it has 
ever been said in our name, we desire most emphatically to disclaim 
the false utterance. 

But what shall be said of the gentleman who on his own confession 
brings charges like those Mr. Smith has recently brought against the 



26 

Tribune, when at the same time he keeps no files of newspapers, and 
relies solely on his recollection to know what they have said of him ? 
In our judgment the best that can be said of him is that he ought to 
be heartily ashamed of himself. 



MR. SMITH'S FOURTH' LETTER. 

Peterboko, Septemhe?- 8, 1855. 
To the Neio York Tribune : 

I little thought, when I wrote my last letter to you, that I should 
have to write you another ; for I could not doubt, that you would 
comply with my very reasonable, my very moderate request. You 
had done much more than to impeach my memory. You had im- 
peached my veracity. For, if, as you alleged, there is no truth in 
any of the things, which I brought against you ; if you w^erc right in 
saying : " False, Mr. Smith, every word of it !" it could only be be- 
cause there is no truth in myself I was willing to let you off on easy 
terms. I was willing to end the controversy, if you would put your- 
self to so little pains, so very little pains, as to repi'int a few lines 
from one of your editorials. I promised to be content, if in this wise, 
and to this extent, you would vindicate my veracity. But, now, that 
you have not done it, I am compelled, as I intimated I would be, to 
do it myself The lines referred to are in your sheet of June 7, 1854. 

And, now, since I have had to look over your files for several 
months, in order to find the few lines, which I asked you to reprint, I 
will publish, in connection with them, numerous other passages, which 
met my eye, whilst searching for these few lines. I will not publish 
all the passages in your columns, which reflect upon my course in 
Congress. Of some that I saw, I made no note : and it was only 
about one quarter of your files from the time I took my seat in Con- 
gress until the present time, that I examined. 

In these extracts from your columns, which will follow this letter, 
you cannot fail to see, and, that too, to your deep mortification and 
utter confusion, how flatly some of them contradict others. For in- 
stance, whilst some of them utter the falsehood, that I did not vote 
on the Nebraska bill, others of them stoutly and indignantly deny, 
that the falsehood is to be found in your columns. 

Some of my extracts, as you will see, are from your correspond- 
ence : and, because they are, you will, perhaps, refuse to acknowledge 
yourself responsible for them. However this may be, sure I am, 
that the public will agree with me, that this is a case, in which your 
responsibility for what your correspondents have said is no less than 
for what your editors have said. For in this case your correspond- 
ents have but fallen in with your editors ; and not only have they 
been countenanced and encouraged by your editors, but the instance 



27 

is not v.'anting in which they have been expressly defended by them. 
Even that correspondent, whose shameless slanders you published 
the fourth of last July, found you coming to his relief and substantial 
justification. For correspondents whose slanders you condemn, I 
•admit, you are not responsible. But for the communicated slanders, 
which are invited by similar editorial slanders, and also by various 
other editorial abuse — slanders, moreovei*, which you either indorse 
by your silence, or expressly confirm — for such slanders certainly 
you are no less amenable than for those, which are concocted in your 
editorial closets. 

And now, that you have compelled me to write you another letter, 
pardon me for improving the occasion to call your attention to the 
three ways in which you have met me in this controversy ; and to 
ask you whether these were the reasonable and candid ways, in which 
it was proper to meet me. 

1st. You have quoted against indubitable evidence of what I actu- 
ally did in Congress on the Nebraska bill, my conjectures of what I 
would have done in other circumstances. These conjectures you 
found in disjointed extracts from a playful private letter, written in 
answer to questions which you never knew, and which I do not re- 
member ; and written too, you know not how long, and I know not 
how long (for the extracts bear no date,) after the Congressional strug- 
gle on that bill was all over. 

2d. Finding it easier to rail at me and to vilify me than to argue 
with me, you have turned aside from the argument to cover me all 
over with reproach and ridicule. Not content with calling me a reck- 
less and passionate man, a vain man, and an eccentric man, if not, 
indeed, a downright madman, you have carried your unkind exposure 
of my poor self so far, as to inform the public, that my head is abso- 
lutely destitute of brains. 

Sd. The other of the three ways has been to deny, broadly and 
utterly, not only that you ever assailed my anti-slavery fidelity, but 
that you ever misrepresented my course on the Nebraska bill. 

The simple truth, Mr. Trihine, is, that you did a very wrong thing 
in misrepresenting my course and character in Congress ; and that 
you are doing a still worse thing in denying the misrepresentation. 
Strong in the sympathy and support of a great party, and in the 
almost illimitable power of your types, you feel safe in treating an 
individual as you Avill. And, indeed, you are safe, where the indivi- 
dual has so little popularity and influence as I have : — safe, I mean, 
from all that, which a vulgar mind might apprehend — from all such 
danger, as the loss of patronage, or the loss of votes. For, in these 
respects, and in every similar respect, I could not harm you, if I 
would. Nevertheless, to be safe from consequences of this descrip- 
tion is but very little, however much the vulgar mind might covet 
such safety. I thank God, that there is a nobler order of mind, which 
feels no safety but in truth, and prizes no advantage, however great, 
which is obtained by wrong. May you y6t give proof, that your own 
mind is of this nobler order ! Much proof to that end will there be 
in your ingenuous confession of the errors, into which you have been 



28 

tempted. The -warm desire of my heart is, that such proof may not 
long be lacking. 

You blame me for relying " solely " on my " recollection," in car- 
rying on this controversy with you. I do not wonder at your poor 
opinion of my memory. Considering, indeed, that you speak of me 
as absolutely brainless, how can you regard me as having any memory 
at all 1 In my second letter, I reminded you of the danger of judging 
of your opponent's abilities, in the light of your own vilifications of 
him ; and now, in this matter of my memory, you have afforded a 
striking instance of such danger. Such a habit had you got into of 
caricaturing my poor head, that you came, at last, to believe in your 
caricatures. This reflex influence upon ourselves of our attempts to 
deceive others is not uncommon. That men become dupes of their 
own dupings is, in fact, among the surest retributions. 

Another and very striking illustration of our liability to fall our- 
selves under the power of the deceptions, which we practise on others, 
is to be seen in some of your representations of my course on the 
Nebraska bill. You had tried so hard to put me in a false position 
toward the bill, that you evidently came at last to believe, that I 
really occupied it. For instance, who can doubt, that, when you 
WTote what I have extracted from your sheet of July 15, 1854, you 
did actually believe, that I failed to vote on the bill ? To say other- 
wise of you is to make you a thousand-fold worse than deluded. I 
am now fully persuaded, that, for many months, you yourself believed 
what you are mainly responsible for hundreds of thousands believing, 
namely, that I did not vote on the Nebraska bill. 

But to return to my memory. Perhaps, it is too poor to be justi- 
fied in trusting itself without your files, in a controversy about your 
files, with you, who have them. I have no praises to bestow upon it. 
I wish it were a better memory. Nevertheless, I am confident, that 
there is now one newspaper, which will never again be disposed to 
put the powers of that memory to the test. But, pray what shall be 
said of i/our memory, which not only could not recollect what you 
had published against me, but which, even after a fresh examination of 
your files, and a fresh reading of what you had published against me, 
could, nevertheless, by no possibility, be brought to recollect it 1 
There are memories of a twofold infirmity — memories, that neither 
can, nor will, retain what they prefer not to retain. A less generous 
person than myself would, perhaps, impute to you a memory of that 
sort. 

You say that I ought " to be heartily ashamed " of myself But 
sure I am that the public, after reading the extracts, will say that the 
party, which ought " to be heartily ashamed," is you, who have the 
hardihood to confront the abounding testimony of your own columns 
— and not I, who am so triumphantly sustained by that testimony, in 
every particular. 

You will see among the extracts your admission, that the vote on 
the Nebraska bill was not taken, until half past eleven o'clock. An 
important admission this in the face of the repeated declarations of 
your columns, that not even to vote against the Nebraska bill would 
I keep out of bed after nine o'clock. Gebrit Smith. 



EXTRACTS FEOM THE COLUMNS 



OP THE 



NEW-YOEK TRIBUNE. 



March 14, 1854. — "I will let you know when he (Senator Douglas) suc- 
ceeds in pulling the wool over the eyes of the Northern opponents of the 
measure, so far as to accomplish his object. Mr. Gerrit Smith, being a peace 
man and a non-resistant, may yield to his suggestion." — Washington Corre- 
spondent. 

March 31, 1854. — " The opponents of the Nebraska Bill here are at a loss 
to understand the votes of Gerrit Smith and Mr. Haven of your State on the 
incidental questions, etc. * * * They seem to study to vote to thwart 
the purposes of those who would defeat the bill." — Special Bispatcli from 
Washington. 

May 12, 1854. — "Mr. Gerrit Smith's peculiar mental idiosyncrasy may 
prevent him from cooperating in necessary measures of opposition (to the 
Nebraska Bill ;) but we cannot believe it of any man of hard sense in the 
House who really desires to defeat the scoundrel scheme." — Editorial. 

May 13, 1854. — The Whigs fight well, but they are not heartily sustained 
by the other opponents of the bill." [Gerrit Smith is named among these 
heartless opponents of the bill.] — Special Dispatch from Washington. 

May 15, 1854. — "Does any moderate conservative Northern man doubt 
the policy of offering a little gentle resistance to this brilliant system of mea- 
sures by way of calling the yeas and nays a few extra times on Nebraska ? 
Perhaps such a very peaceable gentleman as Mr. Gerrit Smith may hang 
fire at the proposition ; but is there any other Northern man, whose head 
and pluck are good and sound, who can retire before the inconceivable pusil- 
lanimity of a suggestion that such a course is unwise ? We presume not. 
We do not know for a certainty that Mr. Smith occupies the position we 
assign to him. If he does, all we can say is, that he had better resign his 
seat at the earliest possible moment, and let his constituents elect somebody 
in his place who will do his duty among sinners, and not go for applying 
millennium tactics in a body like the House of Representatives at Washing- 
ton." — Editorial. 

May 15, 1854. — " Gerrit Smith, as every body admits, acts from strictly 
conscientious motives ; and although, as most of his friends think, he mis- 
takes the proper course sometimes, no one is uncharitable enough to condemn 
him." 



80 

" Charles Sumner has entered into all the plans to defeat the iniquity with 
zeal and heartiness. He told Gerrit Smith that if the bill passed as was pro- 
posed without discussion, he should hold him responsible for it." — Washing- 
ton Corresjwndent, entitled " Our Oion Corresiyondent.'" 

May 23, 1854. — "At half-past eleven o'clock (last night) the bill (Nebraska 
Bill) passed by a vote of 113 to 100." — Editorial. 

June 7, 1854. — "Ordinarily it is a gone case with a Northern man when 
he gets badly complimented by gentlemen from the South, It is usually 
but the initiatory step toward swallowing him. We are not sure that we 
have not lost, during the present session, by this process the most radical 
abolitionist ever sent to Congress. But in regard to Judge Wade, no fear 
of this lamentable result will be felt in any quarters where he is known." — 
Editorial. 

June 19, 1854. — "The Hon. Gerrit Smith not only declines a reelection, 
but is understood to contemplate resigning his seat in the present Congress 
because of ill health. We regret this, although Mr. Smith has become ex- 
ceedingly popular with the Slavery Extensionists — even those of them who 
are not invited to his dinners. Their flattery might perhaps embarrass and 
puzzle, but could not possibly corrupt him." — Editorial. 

July 15, 1854. — "Now we are sure that Gerrit Smith is not and never 
can be at heart a traitor to liberty — though he may err sadly in judgment, 
as we think he did at the time the Nebraska Bill was passed. * * * 

" Health and life are desirable, but duty is before them both ; and while it 
may be wrong in the majority to protract a sitting through the night, and force 
the final vote to an unreasonable hour, we do not see how that wrong ex- 
cuses a member from standing by it to the last. The spirit in which a great 
wrong is met by its leading opponents is of the greatest consequence ; it 
electrifies or paralyzes thousands ; and many will hastily conclude that a 
pro-slavery measure which Gerrit Smith did not see fit to lose sleep to vote 
against, cannot be very important or dangerous. That was a mistake, Mr. 
Smith ; and we think you will live to realize it." — Editorial. 

July 24, 1854. — " What a sad failure Gerrit Smith has made in Congress ! 
And what a feeble apology he renders for his short-comings ! The great 
Abolition orator, whose thunders at a distance shook the pillars of slavery, 
and startled its sentinels in their ceaseless round, becomes pusey and harm- 
less upon a closer inspection. This mighty adversary of the ' peculiar insti- 
tution ' excused his delinquency by pleading his country custom of going to 
bed at nine o'clock ! Alas ! little hath slavery to fear from an enemy who 
goes to bed at nine o'clock. The chief villainies of the world are concocted 
and executed after that hour ; and the patriot and Chiistian who would de- 
feat the machinations of the enemies of liberty must keep later vigils, and, if 
he sleeps at all, sleep with one eye unclosed. The twenty-third Congres- 
sional l)istrict will be represented by a stouter foe to slavery extension in 
the next House than Gerrit Smith has proved himself." — Syracuse Corre- 
spondent. 

August 11, 1854. — "Mr. Smith begins (his letter to his constituents, dated 
August 7, 1854,) by defending the compliments he paid to his slaveholding 
opponents in the exordium of his first speech, (in Congress ) which, among 
other things, his friends have animadverted upon. We suppose these com- 
pliments must have been in a Pickwickian sense, and let them pass with the 
simple remark that doughfaces have complimented the South, etc. * =^ * 

" We shall let his (Mr. Smith's) defense of his not remaining to vote on 



31 

the bill speak for itself. * * * Though he may vote against the night 
sessions, yet, when the majority rules it, he, according to his own logic, has 
no right to go to bed," — Editorial. 

[Note. — The declaration that Mr. Smith complimented slaveholders and 
defended himself for it, has, as the papers here referred to will show, not the 
least foundation in truth ; and the declaration that he defended himself for 
not voting on the bill, which he did vote on in all its stages, is, of course, 
sheer nonsense.] 

July 4, 1855. — " Gerrit Smith is really the leader, (of the Radical Aboli- 
tionists,) though I think since his failure in Congress, his influence is on 
the wane. His want of back-bone on the night of the passage of the Ne- 
bi'aska Bill, and his lame excuse that he was in the habit of going to bed at 
nine o'clock, lost him troops of friends everywhere, as well among Radical 
Abolitionists as in other parties." — Correspondent at Syracuse. 

July 16, 1855. — "The friends of Mr. Gerrit Smith complain of our pub- 
lishing in The Tribune the following passage in a letter from Syracuse, 
commenting on the Convention of Radical Abolitionists lately held there : 

" ' Gerrit Smith is really the leader, though I think since his failure in Congress 
his influence is on the wane. His want of back-bone on the night of tlie passage 
of the Nebraska bill, and his lame excuse — that lie was in the habit of going to bed 
at nine o'clock — lost him troops of friends everywhere, as well among Radical Abo- 
litionists as in other parties.' 

" This paragraph certainly does Mr. Smith some injustice, but is rather 
verbal than real. The fact is that he was present in the House of Represent- 
atives ' on the night of the passage of the Nebraska bill,' and voted against 
it; but, on the other hand, this division was only formal, and simply 
recorded a foregone conclusion. When the real battle on that bill took 
place in the House, in the prolonged and stormy session of May 11, 1854, 
and when the opposition were contending with the most admirable gallantry, 
and using all the parliamentary means at their command to prevent the bill 
from being brought to a vote at all — then it was that Mr. Smith abandoned 
the field of honor and, as we think, of duty, in order not to encroach .upon 
his peaceful habit of going to bed at nine o'clock. As this was the decisive 
struggle, and its conclusion settled the question that the bill must pass, our 
correspondent, though literally in error, was hardly so in point of fact. We 
think, however, that he was entirely wrong in charging Mr. Smith with want 
of back-bone. There is certainly no such deficiency in his constitution. He 
has his own peculiarities, and it is often very difficult to determine what 
ground he will occupy in regard to any public question before he takes his 
position. Possibly he did not equal the expectations of his friends while he 
was in Congress, though it is not strictly correct to say that his course in 
that body was a ' failure.' Those who have been most intimate with Mr. 
Smith and his career suffered no great disappointment. He turned out to 
be about what was expected." — Editorial. 

July 28, 1855. — " Not very long ago, a correspondent of The Tribune at 
Syracuse spoke of Mr. Smith as having failed to vote against the Nebraska 
Bill, because it was his rule to go to bed at nine o'clock. This statement 
having been brought to our notice by a friend of Mr. Smith's, we at once 
corrected it, and repeated the notorious fact — often before prominently pub- 
lished in these columns, and never contradicted there until this Syracuse 
letter — that Mr. Smith was present at the final division on the Nebraska Bill 
and voted against it. * * * 

" For instance, he charges that we have till now concealed the fact that 



32 

he voted against the Nebraska Bill, when the truth is, that it was published 
most prominently at the time, and that, so far as we are aware, nothing has 
ever been said or insinuated to the contrary in our columns until this un- 
lucky letter from Syracuse. * * * 

" It was in his (Mr. Smith's) heart but accidentally not in his act to fail 
to vote against the bill." — Editorial. 

August 17, 1855. — " Mr, Smith, with a reckless and passionate haste 
which we rebuked but too mildly, charged us in his former letter with being 
the chief and most responsible propagator of the calumny that he did not 
vote on the Nebraska Bill. We denied that this charge possessed any 
foundation whatever. * * * Mr, Smith ought to be ashamed of himself 
for repeating on such silly grounds accusations which we positively deny, 
and for the truth of which no proof can be brought, * * * 

" But here we have this point clearly established. He would not sit up 
out of his regular hours, or go without his usual meals to prevent the ' Ne- 
braska Bill ' from coming to a vote, or even to vote on it at the final divi- 
sion. " — Editorial. 



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